History comes alive in Regal Heights class

[attach]3077[/attach]If you think your class production of Hamlet only accounts for your much-anticipated A+ in drama class, think again.

Throw in hard work and a passionate teacher at the helm, and your school play may later garner national attention and a coveted [url=]Governor General[/url] award.

That’s what happened at Loretto College Catholic Secondary School, where teacher Diane Vautour recently became the recipient of the Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Teaching Canadian History.

Vautour, social science teacher at the all-girls’ school, was recognized for her leadership and innovation for her students’ re-enactment of Nellie McClung’s famous “Mock Parliament”, where the women’s rights activist famously staged a women’s parliament to bring attention to women’s rights. The presentation was followed by a simulation of the parliamentary debate over the 1917 Wartime Elections Act. The students were encouraged to take on the role of Canada’s pioneering suffragists and politicians.

Vautour, who has been teaching for 10 years, said she was surprised from the acknowledgment the play has received.

“It kind of blew me away in terms of how much they celebrated,” she said. “It was actually a bit overwhelming. Obviously, very exciting and it’s wonderful to receive validation. Getting the Governor General Award was more than what I have expected.”

The project, which took three months to complete, required students to research archival reports, prepare costumes, study and acquire correct forms of speech and collect personal information for their roles, which included political figures from that era, Canada’s early suffragists and pioneer newspaper women.

Students had not only gained valuable information from the play itself, but also learned a momentous life lesson. Vautour said the Grade 11 and 12 students were taught the importance of hard work.

“It’s an example of how when you try hard and you’re focused and you have a goal, you can achieve it.”

Vautour said the play created a lot of buzz in the community.

“I kind of got the sense that a lot of people were happy that it focused on women’s history,” she said. “I know it’s part of the curriculum but sometimes it’s sort of looked at as an add-on, but I try to make it not as supplementary.”

The gold medal was presented in Ottawa at Rideau Hall on Nov. 19. After receiving a cheque for $2,500 as well as $1,000 for the school, Vautour’s achievement was also celebrated at the school on Nov. 23.